29 Replies to “Scarlet Billows Start to Spread”

  1. I know Darrin died young, but what happened to him? I used to have a compilation of his on casette, but as we used to say in Mississippi, “I dont know what went with it.”

  2. I may get grief for it, but there’s a modern swing dog who might do Darin justice: Harry Connick Jr.

    I’m not into the genre well enough to say with any authority though. I just like Connick cuz he keeps a historic genre still very much alive.

    In another vein, Plant owns Stairway to Heaven. I’ve heard dozens of attempts by good live bands, most blowing Page’s guitar work out of the water, but not one could outdo the Robert.

    Good one to ponder, Larry.

  3. Yep, yep, yep. I know just what you mean. And you put it just the perfect way: It would take a lot of damned nerve to cover it. That song is one of my very favorites of all time. It’s the definition of cool. Makes me start snappin’ my fingers every time.

    Thanks for the song, Larry!

  4. Every Wednesday night, I go out for a beer with a few friends. We put five bucks in the juke box. I request three songs: Bobby Darin – Mack the Knife, Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl or In the Mystic, and Supertramp – Breakfast in America.
    Larry, you have class, babe!

  5. And ole Lucy Brown…Bobby sang that like no other.

    Other contenders for best rendition ever? No one else sings “Girl from Ipanema” like Ms Astrud Gilberto. And no one sings “Aguas de Marco” like that other great bossa chanteuse, Elis Regina. She’s so good we forget the great composer Jobim’s shaky vocals.

  6. Larry, I’ve been pondering your question. Here are two songs where I think the original singers own them…

    Frank Sinatra – My Way (even though I think Sid Viscious did a great rendition)

    And Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were

    Total Pshaw! to anyone who thinks they can get away with redoing that one.

    More to come if I can think of any.

  7. I love, love, love this song! Yes, he did own it.

    Maybe these don’t rank, but to me, they are one of a kind…

    Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire?
    Janis Joplin – Me & Bobby McGee?
    Patsy Kline – I Fall to Pieces?
    Aretha – RESPECT?

  8. To be more specific, in my mind I was generally disqualifying songs that were sung by the composer, because, hey, I expect those recordings to be the definitive versions. Thus “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” is forever the artistic property of Stevie Wonder, who wrote it for his own voice and talents. Same with “Brown-Eyed Girl” and Van Morrison. Most singers (ones with taste,anyway) understand this when they are looking for material

    Even though Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” doesn’t fall into this category, I hereby disqualify it from consideration because it is tacky, maudlin, boastful and self-involved. Get outta town, Frank.

    Harry Connick, Jr. is carving a place for himself among jazz crooners, and there’s no denying his talent, but he has yet to make the definitive statement about anything in any of his songs, to my ear. I’ll make an exception to my rule above for Robert Plant and “Stairway to Heaven,” because it’s an iconic song that just plain defines the power ballad genre, thus it’s in a class by itself. I was surprised by the mention of “Girl From Ipanema,” but now that I ponder it, I do believe that Astrud Gilberto did indeed confiscate that song for all time, making those cornball English lyrics actually resonate in my heart.

    At first I couldn’t think of another song that fit the “Mack/Bobby” category, probably because my mind goes blank when exposed to that much power, and all I can hear is that one song, but eventually my mental jukebox found “The Way We Were,” and I would have come back here to mention it myself if no one else had. Streisand’s phrasing and passion are simply unique and perfect for the song.

    Steve – Bobby Darin had rheumatic fever as a child, and lived his whole life with a damaged heart. He died at age 37 in 1973 of complications related to that ailment.

  9. What about “Judy’s Turn to Cry” by Lesley Gore?

    “Bobby’s Girl” by Marcie Blane?

    “Norman” by Sue Thompson?

    Talk about OWNERSHIP! At least as powerful as Bobby Darin’s, and these songs are a little more positive thematically than “Mack the Knife.”

  10. Caravana Basura – An impressive list of ancient hits by girl singers. I just don’t see these as interpretations of songs, though. They are good and memorable recordings, but I can imagine any number of modern singers eclipsing these versions, not that anyone would care enough about such fluff to try.

  11. Who could do “what a faithful, thankful girl I’d be” better than Blane? In these more-aware days, human females stop thinking of themselves as girls around the age of 8, and even then, they would be too cynical and experienced to utter those words in such an ebullient, perky fashion. In her way, she was as irreplacable in her realm as was Walter Cronkite in his.

    On deeper reflection, though, I think I will change my mind and agree with your that Bobby Darrin’s “Mack the Knife” was just about the “best owned” song of any singer.

    And I’m thinking I should have mentioned Buffy Sainte Marie. And Leonard Cohen. And Fred Neil.

    But not Judy Collins.

    A long-ago roommate of mine — whose name was Larry, oddly enough — told me his technique for avoiding premature ejaculation: At the critical moment, he would think of Judy Collins.

  12. Man, this is so spot on! Indeed, Bobby did and does and always will own “Mack the Knife.” I love Louis Arsmtrong’s version, and am a great Louis fan, but Bobby came along and made this song his own–he also made it part of American culture. Only a handful of singers can claim that.

    I don’t know how much of a Darin fan you are, but you might be interested in some of the articles on my website, DarinLand.com.

    I have a couple of interviews with folks who knew and worked with Bobby, as well as features on his singles, his years at Capitol, his film career, and other stuff…

  13. Caravana, some trivia for you. Fred Neil played guitar on Bobby Darin’s demo of “Dream Lover” (And Neil Sedaka tinkled the ivories).

  14. Did Sedaka TICKLE the ivories, perhaps?

    I sure hope he didn’t tinkle ON the ivories!

    Thank you for the delightful trivia!

    And speaking of Neil Sedaka, who could better own “Calendar Girl”?

  15. Thats true. I heard awhile ago that a famous singer, I can’t remember who, was asked to sing “Mack the Knife.” So he listened to a tape of it with Bobby singing it and he said “What are you, crazy?” How am I going to top that?

  16. Pingback: Mack to the Future

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